Featured Post

On To Germany… Or Somewhere?

refugeetrain

UN warns Hungary it faces a wave of 42,000 more migrants (Associated Press, September 8th)

Leaders of the United Nations refugee agency warned Tuesday that Hungary faces a bigger wave of 42,000 asylum seekers in the next 10 days and will need international help to provide shelter on its border, where newcomers already are complaining bitterly about being left to sleep in frigid fields.

Officials from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it was sending tents, beds and thermal blankets to Hungary’s border with Serbia, where for the past two days frustrated groups from the Middle East, Asia and Africa have ignored police instructions to stay put and instead have marched on a highway north to Budapest. {…}

Hungary’s inconsistent reception near the border village of Roszke has left many hundreds waiting for buses that arrive too infrequently, leaving large numbers stranded at night. Officers have found it increasingly difficult to keep them within a designated field. Some have pushed through police lines and walk north deeper into Hungary, while others head south back to Serbia where camps are sometimes better organized.

On Monday, a few hundred people broke through police lines near Roszke and, despite being hit with pepper spray, made it onto the main highway linking Serbia with Budapest. It happened again Tuesday night following a day of scuffles with officers in which one man was injured amid a stampede.

Surge Of Refugees In Europe Could Be Just The First Wave (NPR, September 8th)

The Syrian refugee crisis now descending on Europe may just be the beginning, says Rae McGrath, who heads Mercy Corps’ operation in northern Syria and Turkey.

The Syrians reaching Europe are only a small percentage of the 4 million who have fled to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan over the past four years. {…}

As more Syrians reach northern Europe, it is encouraging more to try.

“The success stories of people who are reaching Europe are influencing those still in Syria, even those who are in safe areas,” says Rami Nakhla, a Syrian activist who was granted asylum in the U.S. and now lives in Washington.

When his brother applied for asylum in Germany to join his wife, German Embassy officials in Turkey told him his appointment to review his application would take a year. So, he hired a smuggler and joined the wave of refugees headed to Europe.

More European Countries Are Bringing Back Border Controls (Huffington Post, September 14th)

Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Netherlands have all announced that they will reinstate temporary border controls — breaking from a core tenet of EU policy to keep borders open. These decisions will also create major repercussions for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who continue to seek new lives across central and western Europe.

Germany temporarily shut down all trains coming from Austria Sunday evening to only allow EU citizens and those with valid travel documents to pass the southern border. German police began patrolling crossing points from Austria shortly thereafter, causing major traffic delays.

“If Germany carries out border controls, Austria must put strengthened border controls in place,” Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann said Monday. Several hundred people spent the night at Salzburg’s train station. Slovakian officials also put in place temporary border controls along the country’s frontiers with Hungary and Austria. Hundreds of police were dispatched Monday to patrol the border. Later Monday, Dutch authorities followed suit and announced they would increase the number of border controls.

Croatia opens borders, welcomes sudden stream of refugees (CNN, September 16th)

“Come on guys, don’t be scared,” a Croatian police officer says as he urges a dozen worried migrants and refugees to step across the border into his country.

Again and again Wednesday, this scene repeated itself in cornfields straddling the non-demarcated border between Serbia and Croatia. People who have endured so much worried and wondered whether they should take those fateful steps.

‘This is not the road to Europe’: Croatian ministers close border with Serbia as they struggle to cope with surge of 11,000 migrants who were turned away from Hungary (Daily Mail, September 17th)

Croatia has been forced to close almost all of its borders with Serbia as it struggles to cope with the surge of migrants, telling them to keep away as ‘this is not the road to Europe’.

Authorities have said they had no other option than to close seven of the eight road crossings after 11,000 people, who were turned away from Hungary, flooded into the country in a matter of days.

Croatia has become the route of choice for those hoping to reach western Europe, but it has struggled to cope – and Ranko Ostojic, Croatia’s interior minister, warned those still planning on making the trip that it was not the easy route to places like Germany and Sweden.

Don’t come here anymore. Stay in refugee centers in Serbia and Macedonia and Greece,’ Ostojic said. ‘This is not the road to Europe. Buses can’t take you there. It’s a lie.’ {…}

This morning helmeted riot police tried to control growing crowds of refugees at the Croatian border town of Tovarnik, as thousands of migrants jostled to board buses after crossing into the country from neighbouring Serbia.

Drone footage captures the tear gas, tanks, tents and sheer scale of the Hungarian border fence keeping desperate migrants out (Daily Mail, September 17th)

Spectacular drone footage captured the moment defiant migrants were tear gassed by police at the Hungarian border yesterday and shows the staggering scale of the great wall of Europe erected to keep them out.

The film, shot for MailOnline yesterday afternoon, records the clouds of gas and pepper spray deployed by Hungarian police as they violently clashed with protesting refugees.

The footage provides a bird’s-eye-view of the 110-mile barrier, dubbed the new Iron Curtain, erected by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to keep refugees out.

Hungary closed its border with Serbia two days ago with tensions rising as migrants who have already travelled thousands of miles were blocked from proceeding on their way, mostly to Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has guaranteed a home to Syrians, but there are also many Afghans and Iraqis among the refugees.

Sweden’s ugly immigration problem (Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, September 11th)

“There has been a lack of integration among non-European refugees,” he told me. Forty-eight per cent of immigrants of working age don’t work, he said. Even after 15 years in Sweden, their employment rates reach only about 60 per cent. Sweden has the biggest employment gap in Europe between natives and non-natives.

In Sweden, where equality is revered, inequality is now entrenched. Forty-two per cent of the long-term unemployed are immigrants, Mr. Sanandaji said. Fifty-eight per cent of welfare payments go to immigrants. Forty-five per cent of children with low test scores are immigrants. Immigrants on average earn less than 40 per cent of Swedes. The majority of people charged with murder, rape and robbery are either first- or second-generation immigrants. “Since the 1980s, Sweden has had the largest increase in inequality of any country in the OECD,” Mr. Sanandaji said.

Let them come and they will build it (Paul Romer, September 17th)

When doing the right thing (“be generous”) seems to make the problem worse (“more will come”), it is time to pull back and reconsider. What is the real problem? What would actually be the right thing?

The real problem is not that people are queuing up to get into Europe. Rather, it is that tens or hundreds of millions of people live in a place where a failing government precludes any chance at the basics that any person wants: safety, dignity, opportunity, hope.

When someone desperate for these basics shows up on our doorstep, our emotions naturally encourage us to respond with charity. When you see someone in desperate circumstances, you offer help.

Unfortunately, this innate emotional response is a very bad guide about how to respond to problems at the scale of tens or hundreds of millions of people. At this scale, we have to focus on opportunity, which can turn all these people into the resource that solves the problem. Our impulse toward charity leads inevitably to a lottery that is demeaning, wasteful, and horribly inequitable.

And don’t kid yourself. Only an official from a Kafka novel could believe that this lottery becomes more humane if you layer in bureaucrats tasked with separating the worthy refugees from mere migrants with the temerity to want for their children the safety, hope, dignity, and opportunity that we want for our own children.


Managing Editor
Home Page Twitter Google+ Pinterest 

Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

273 thoughts on “On To Germany… Or Somewhere?

  1. And they all want to go to Germany where the benefits are the largest. So is it really about fleeing war or is it something else or something else in addition to it?

    Report

    • There’s a hierarchy of needs. If you can be assured to have the most foundational ones, why wouldn’t you be pushing for some of the middle ones?

      If you can leave a war-torn country to either one that has crappy schools or one that has good ones, why wouldn’t you want to go to the one that has good ones?

      Report

      • Oh, it’s a totally rational decision. I’m not snarking on that. Given the choice, I’d surely choose the better of any options, but portraying this as ONLY a refugee issue, like it has been in a lot of articles I’ve seen in the press, distorts the true picture.

        Report

                • Things were getting better in Iraq when Obama decided to turn tail and run. After that it Iraq became a failed state. The generals asked that troop withdraws be delayed and they were refused. So don’t blame Bush bc Obama let the hard fought progress slip away.

                  Report

                      • Military folks aren’t really people on the ground. They aren’t local, and they can’t really tell you what things were like before they were there.

                        Nobody sane says that Baghdad is better than before America came by — and the ethnic cleansing happened while bush was still in office.

                        Nobody sane says that the Northern Iraqis haven’t had their lot improved — which is most of what I heard out of the military during Bush’s term.

                        Report

                    • This is exactly the point of view I have been denied, since I live safely under the all seeing eye of American journalism. I am now reading the blog you linked to and it is giving me the understanding that we so desperately need. Sadly, I am one of the very few who will ever read it. Thank You

                      Report

                      • It’s been linked off dailykos, and other places.
                        If you want more “voices on the ground” — look at GlobalVoices.org

                        It is essential that we see stories from enough perspectives to understand the entire issue.

                        I am deeply glad that Riverbend survived — after six months of not hearing from her, we were nearly certain she was dead.

                        Report

                    • One does have to ask how deposing a Sunni dictator destabilized the regime Shi’a dictator next door, and why we’re all of a sudden giving credit to Dubya for the Arab spring (and denying the agency of all the people that are living in the Mess o Potamia)

                      edit: and with the Obama administration going its 7th year, surely its had some effect on the world, right? Or does everything flow from actions taken in March 2003 and Aug 19, 1953 and nothing else matters?

                      Report

                      • Well obviously it’s complicated. That we’re in Iraq at all is pretty undeniably on account of Bush and the GOP* (with a craven assist from the Dems who were in opposition and neglected to vigorously oppose them, granted, but even had the Dems opposed them en masse Bush and the GOP still had the authority and votes to invade), the SOFA agreement that Bush negotiates with the Iraqis is also, rather plausibly, Bush’s doing and it was that SOFA that led to Obama withdrawing pretty much all of the American forces from Iraq**. Now the official neocon line is that if Obama had stuck his chest out and bellowed the Iraqi’s would have simply wetted themselves in eagerness to let the American troops stay and it’s an article of faith by the GOP that having thousands of Americans stationed in Iraq would have prevented the ISIS fiasco***. Those are… dubious… to my mind. The Iraqi’s, specifically Maliki and his Iranian backers, were quite eager to be rid of the Americans so they could, in their minds, get on with the business of sticking it to the Sunni’s of Iraq so the idea that sufficient inveigling would have simply changed the minds of both the Iraqi administration and the majority of ordinary Iraqis is suspect… to say the least.

                        I wouldn’t put credit/blame for the Arab Spring on Obama, Bush, Israel or anyone beyond the peoples and rulers of that benighted region. It is, however, very blatantly obvious to my mind that had ISIS rolled up to the borders of an Iraq being ruled by a Sunni strongman with his administration of Sunni cronies that the pampered and comfortable Sunni’s on said border would have either A) laughed in ISIS’s faces or B) shot ISIS’s faces off. No or little cooperation from indigenous I Iraqi Sunnis would have meant no ISIS in Iraq; that is simply how ISIS works.

                        So on one hand notme and the neocons are right: If Obama had somehow lost his mind and forced/cajoled the Iraqi’s into letting the US stay in Iraq then when ISIS ignited a Sunni uprising the US would have been automatically sucked in neck deep with boots on the ground engagement as a matter of course****. That the GOP/Neocons view this as being a good thing tells one pretty much everything one needs to know about the baying at the moon crazy that holds sway in the right on matters of foreign policy.

                        *And it bears noting, loudly and repeatedly, that the architects and cheerleaders of war remain in prominent positions in the GOP and would likely return to power with any GOP administration that won in 2016.
                        **And it’s my position that the surge and the SOFA gave us enough pretense to bail out and said bailing has served America very well in every year since.
                        ***Whereas I, and most liberals, think it would have merely generated a steady dribble of American service member corpses returning home under the flag.
                        ****Instead of the ankle deep involvement we have elected to engage ourselves in now.

                        Report

                        • Even someone as committed as North seems to be to an even-handed, accountable, and even charitable narrative can’t resist the temptation to assign a self-serving certainty to matters of conjecture. I don’t have time to go through the comment line by line, but take this sentence:

                          That we’re in Iraq at all is pretty undeniably on account of Bush and the GOP.

                          Between the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom there were almost ten years, during eight of which a Democrat was Commander in Chief, and during all of which we were “in Iraq” as much as or more than we are today. Policy regarding Iraq for most of that time included harsh sanctions, actively patrolled no-fly-zones in the North and South, pre-positioning of materiel and forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, direct punitive bombing (Operation Desert Fox), and passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, signed by WJC, committing the US to “regime change.” During that time the great left hope Al Gore Jr., eventually very fierce critic of OIF, was hardly alone in making his primary criticism of Bush 41 the failure to “complete the job.” (While looking for an exact quote on the latter I ran across this rather on-point post: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/why-al-gore-would-have-invaded-iraq-and-what-it-tells-us-about-syria/article14105322/ )

                          Today, for the left, Syria is obviously to any good and sane person a byproduct of the Iraq fiasco, and proof that American intervention leads to chaos, death, loss of prestige, strengthening of enemies, and so on. For the right, Syria is obviously proof to any good and sane person that refusal to intervene leads to chaos, death, loss of prestige, strengthening of enemies, and so on: It is what Iraq would eventually have been (if not worse) if America had never intervened.

                          (Incidentally, we had a similar argument once upon a time about Vietnam and Cambodia.)

                          (Incidentally again, the notion that Saddam’s regime would have been a bulwark against IS is a little strained, since key IS strategy and operatives in Iraq were taken from that same regime.)

                          Report

                            • Yeah ISIS leaders were former Iraqi Army leaders. So……if Iraq isn’t invaded and then former Ba’athe party members aren’t kept out of the power structure, there is no ISIS.

                              Well, it’s even simpler than that. ISIS is basically an renamed al-Qaeda’s in Iraq…and *that* wasn’t even able to exist under Saddam. Say what you want about fascist dictators, but at least they don’t allow terrorists (At least, not *someone else’s* terrorists) to operate.

                              I think about it this way: Before the Iraq war, there were a few areas of the Middle East not really under any government’s control, and the biggest and most obvious was parts of Afghanistan, which is why terrorist groups could operate out of there freely. But those parts of Afghanistan had a very serious problem…they were very poor, and those parts were almost completely inaccessible.

                              The Iraq war cleverly made parts of the Iraq not under anyone’s control, which allowed terrorist groups to operate out of there. Iraq…has a lot more infrastructure, a lot more money, *and* is a much more centralized to the Middle East as a whole. And it’s *right next* to a different country with a government that was hanging on by a thread.

                              And, thus, ISIS.

                              Report

                          • Somehow, CK, it seems a stretch to me to say that since Clinton upheld the no fly zones and other byproducts of Gulf War I that the Dems (beyond their intimidated and nakedly political failure to oppose the invasion of Iraq) are culpable for George W’s excellent adventure. An active tanks on the ground invasion and toppling of Saddam is more than a couple degrees up from policing the no fly zone.

                            The idea that Saddam might, what? Cooperate with ISIS if it arose in Syria is so far out into the speculation sphere as to be basically imagination. Even so you can be sure Saddam and his sunni supporters sure as hell wouldn’t have let ISIS set up shop in Iraq’s Sunni heartland.

                            And the parallels to Iraq are nonsensical; there was no burning domestic rebellion ongoing against Saddam when W invaded. Hell, I wish the GOP/Right would openly say that Iraq II was what they’d prefer to our current strategy of not much but bombing and poking at the mess. They’d get drummed out in a landslide of course, the electorate has at least a lick of senses, but of course the GOP doesn’t have the courage of their neocon convictions to actually SAY they want to send other peoples kids into Syria to help out one deplorable disreputable side against the other.

                            Report

                            • [I]t seems a stretch to me to say that since Clinton upheld the no fly zones and other byproducts of Gulf War I that the Dems […] are culpable for George W’s excellent adventure.

                              Didn’t say that, although I might argue the question of “culpability” in regard specifically to OIF if that’s what you want to argue.

                              You wrote (emphasis added):

                              That we’re in Iraq at all is pretty undeniably on account of Bush and the GOP.

                              That is the statement I was addressing.

                              As for the IS question, I refer to you my reply to greginak. The question isn’t whether Saddam’s regime would have opposed IS. Saddam, if still alive today, would be 78 years old. We do not of course know what the elements of his genocidal, militarist regime, both those now working with IS and those no longer around at all, including his insane sons, would be doing today if not for W’s “excellent adventure.” The regime as a whole was already a permutation of an “IS concept” before there was what we now know as “IS.” It wasn’t, of course, the same as IS, but it had many of the same enemies, and IS’s terror-state methods were, apparently, in key parts designed and developed by a former Saddam operative.

                              It goes without saying that Iraq 2003 was different from Syria 2015. Syria 2015 is also very different from Syria 2011 – a point which extends to the character of the “burning rebellion” as well. For the same reason, intervention in Syria at any point would necessarily have had a much different particular shape than the intervention in Iraq in 2003 (which was in large part a continuation or escalation of the intervention ongoing since 1990-1). So why should someone conscious of those differences, but still in favor of US “leadership” on Syria, commit to something he or she didn’t support and wouldn’t find reasonable, regardless of these other questions about Iraq?

                              Now, I’m not one to attack Obama for not intervening in Syria. I do observe that a non-intervention policy does have costs, not all of them direct costs, but I’ve never believed that one man or one party goes to war – or doesn’t. OIF was the kind of thing America 2002-3 would do. Obama Era America is America in retrenchment, experimenting with an opposite approach, not exactly happy with it, but not believing or likely able to be convinced that happiness or anything much better than what we’re getting is currently available.

                              Both left and right, oddly enough, if for different reasons, agree that all those blasted and poisoned children strewn across the landscape are our responsibility, but no one offers a reasonable path to alleviation of our guilt. My guess is sooner or later we’ll be escalating our never-discontinued involvement again, maybe with something HRC or Marco Rubio convince us is the “just right” middle way policy. (We know Rubio is connected to the hawk establishment, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be prudent. HRC’s comments on foreign policy do underline that she has a kind of experimentalist and aggressiver-than-O concept regarding the the present conjuncture.) If whatever whichever tries is not seen to work any better, it may serve to pass time as we prepare the next and next again more radical concepts…

                              Report

                              • Eh, I concede that “At all” was incorrect. It seems like quibbling but I can’t see anyone convincing anyone that OIF wasn’t largely a GOP and W project.

                                Sure ISIS and Saddam’s regime share some characteristics, ISIS and Saddam were both Sunni movements and depended on Sunni support. The Baath were, on the other hand, not particularly religious whereas ISIS is nothing but. Would Saddam or his successors have meddled or maybe even lent support to ISIS? That’s plausible. Had we not invaded Iraq, though, maybe with our extra 4 thousand some unlost American lives and the 2.2 trillion dollars we would have been in a better position to throw our weight around on the subject. Hell, maybe Iraq would have collapsed after Saddam died, good thing we spent all that blood and treasure rather than let it happen on its own.

                                Nonintervention has had costs, granted, but they’re the kind of costs that the electorate grumbles about for five minutes and then doesn’t think about for a couple months. The costs for the rights adventurism, on the other hand, is significantly more substantial.

                                But you do have a solid point that Hillary is more hawkish than Obama, it’s my least favorite aspect of her candidacy. That said I think Obama’s performance on foreign policy has been pretty good overall.

                                Report

                                • This is why I don’t like counterfactual argument: It leads people to treat dubious assumptions as factual, and to treat interconnected events, conditions, and processes as somehow static and separate. I think that’s why you’re not getting the argument on IS. To journey further into the counterfactual universe that does not exist and could not exist, if the US had not escalated again in Iraq, there would be no IS, because there would be no “need” for IS. Saddam’s Iraq given free reign was IS enough to make IS redundant. Near the end of Saddam’s regime he had already moved consequentially in the direction of Islamification of his cause, and IS is not as “religious” in operation as you claim when you call it “nothing but,” but I don’t want to waste any more time on such irrelevancies, because the history we have is the history we have, and it took on the shapes we know for complex, interconnected reasons that no longer make sense once you have falsified them by separating them from each other.

                                  When in this counterfactual zone, you already point to convergence of the alternative you strive to imagine with the events as they developed. You write:

                                  Had we not invaded Iraq, though, maybe with our extra 4 thousand some unlost American lives and the 2.2 trillion dollars we would have been in a better position to throw our weight around on the subject. Hell, maybe Iraq would have collapsed after Saddam died, good thing we spent all that blood and treasure rather than let it happen on its own.

                                  According to your logic, an America unchastened by the bloody, wrenching failure of OIF, with the same unwarranted surplus of self-confidence in our ideas that we still possessed in 2002-3, upon discovering turbulence or a breakdown in the security system in and around the Gulf, would have been prepared to spend the $2.2 trillion and 4,000 lives. Unchastend and with an unwarranted surplus of self-confidence, confronting turbulence and breakdown – the crumbling overhang of the inherited Iraq policy, the new threat in the form of Al Qaeda, other features of that conjuncture feeding a peculiar combination of fear and hubris – was the position we were in in 2002-3. We proceeded to spend $2.2 trillion and 4,000 lives. We don’t need an alternative history. The history we experienced is already that alternative.

                                  Report

                  • Obama was President in 2008? I thought he took office in January of 2009.

                    I must have missed either the time travel or the Constitutional amendment.

                    After all, notme, a man as educated as yourself about Iraq would know when the SOFA setting the withdrawal timeline from Iraq was signed!

                    Report

    • Hey, if you are going to be a refugee, you might as well be on the best dole that you can. I don’t see why other muslim countries aren’t taking any of their fellow believers instead of letting them live with infidels.

      Report

      • notme

        I don’t see why other muslim countries aren’t taking any of their fellow believers …

        You have been let down by your news sources and ideology. Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan all have significant refugee populations.

        Report

      • It’s a non-sinister kind of logic. You just fled from home with only the most basic of possessions (people are walking to Europe, not arriving in a wave of U-Hauls), you are going to need a safety net while you get back on your feet, or rather, if there is a safety net, you can get back on your feet faster.

        The real concern is how quickly will the bulk of the refugees get back on their feet and assimilate, and how well does the new country enable that process?

        Report

        • Yep, “It’s a non-sinister kind of logic. You just fled from home with only the most basic of possessions”. Right….and the thousands of dollars you got for selling your business or home to pay the smugglers through all the various countries. A lot of these “refugees” aren’t refugees but economic migrants. Something not getting as much press as you’d think.

          A lot of these folks were living in Turkey for quite some time before they decided to go to western euroland.

          Report

          • I’m sure there are plenty of economic migrants mixed in with honest refugees, and as soon as there is a reliable and cost-effective way of differentiating the two that can’t be gamed 5 minutes after it’s deployed, we can focus on turning away migrants.

            Report

                    • You mean the statue the French gave us to celebrate our independence and the ideas of republicanism but which became associated with immigrants because of where it was placed? Whatever.

                      Report

                      • “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
                        With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
                        Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
                        A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
                        Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
                        Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
                        Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
                        The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

                        “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
                        With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
                        Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
                        The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
                        Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
                        I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

                        -Emma Lazarus

                        Report

                        • To be somewhat fair to notme, the United States seems to have dual histories of being extremely welcoming to immigrants (that poem) and being extremely xenophobic (The Asian Exclusion Act, the Know-Nothings, Prop 124). Perhaps the balance is to xenophobia.

                          What is interesting is when the same feelings reside in the same person. Thomas Nast was very pro Chinese/Asian immigrant (he basically saw them as people with a Protestant Work Ethic) and very anti-Irish immigrant (Druken Papists!)

                          Report

          • I mean really. Is this Be A Strawman Day?

            What is it with conservatives and their gnawing fear and caustic bitterness? If I crafted a stereotype of the Raging Bitter Clinger whose fear and paranoia of foreigners caused him to lose all touch with basic humanity, I couldn’t do better.

            The rest of humanity sees these crowds of civilians fleeing a horrific war, and you see sneaky conniving cheats and con artists who are going to enjoy a candy bar on your nickel.

            Seriously- what is it that causes you to do this, to relentlessly search and ferret out even the most implausible spark of doubt about these people, then fan it into a roaring fire of seething bitterness, rather than trust the instinctive human impulse towards compassion?

            What are you afraid of, what nightmare flickers in your head when you envision us welcoming these people?

            Report

            • WOW,
              Way to read so much of not what I said. And don’t insult me by calling me a “conservative”…or a “liberal”. I’m going to assume that you didn’t read all my posts, especially the ones down below between Kim and me.

              “The rest of humanity sees these crowds of civilians fleeing a horrific war” Oh, then how come a lot of them were “fleeing Turkey” not Syria? You want to square that narrative? A lot of these folks were in Turkey for quite some time and now have decided to go to Germany when they were already “safe”. But that’s a minor point. The real point is that Europe has a choice to let them in or not, and so do we. I have no problem turning them back if that’s in the best interests of our country. It’s not about fear, it’s about OUR best interests, not theirs.

              Not compassionate? Tough. Life isn’t.

              Report

                  • Trail of Tears style is what’s on the books.
                    I said it wasn’t a hypothetical.

                    Murder is perhaps the least objectionable sin, provided it is done quickly and with good reason. Death can be a kindness and a mercy, but even when not — it is far better than torture.

                    Report

                • I do not support genocide, however, I recognize that it’s a policy that has worked in the past. That tribe over there that’s constantly harassing us? Let’s go kill them all. The Romans made good use of the technique, and of torture (crucifixion) as political tools.

                  That’s why I draw a line between policy and emotions. And it may be a fine line, but there is a difference between machine gunning refugees in boats and and turning them back to where they came, knowing they might all be put up against the wall and shot. Like I said, life’s cold and it’s about survival. Ours. After ours, we can think about theirs.

                  Report

                  • While bullets are bad, history has shown that scarcity will end a people just as quickly, and it is something often overlooked. If state administrations are using the old models of conquest->war->scarcity->death, they lead with bullets but they ultimately kill with depravity.

                    Show me a nation that is forever immune to scarcity, and I will show you a nation that can survive without borders when tactics like these are used.

                    Report

                    • Yes, we employed that “scarcity model” when we embargoed Iraq and starved 5 hundred thousand iraqi children.

                      But “we think the price is worth it.” Madeleine Albright, 60 Minutes (5/12/96)

                      “we”. Yah…right…

                      Report

                  • Damon,
                    It may surprise you, but I do quite agree.
                    We can hardly help others if we cannot help ourselves, after all.

                    I may think the line is sufficiently far away that we can probably let in another 100,000 or so (America is a mighty big place)… but that’s just quibbling.

                    Report

              • They’ve decided to go to Turkey now – now that the smugglers are packing people like sardines into dangerously unseaworthy dinghies, anyone with an ounce of conscience out of the business as they see the human tool, dead humans washing up on the shores daily, instead of a year or two ago when for half the price you got a spot in a well maintained fishing boat? You really believe that? That must be some devious 4-D chess they’re playing.

                No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

                Report

  2. I’ve been trying to conceptualize a post comparing Hungary to Arizona (i.e. Europe to the U.S.), with an emphasis on the comparative situations each sits in from the perspective of membership in a federal union. And how migration is a fundamental challenge to such arrangements, especially (perhaps) the more loosely confederated a group of states in a union (or “Union”) happens to be. (So that if, in fact, you lack an actual central government, migration crises can become near-existential issues for such unions.)

    Unfortunately I face a severe knowledge and perspective gap in this area, and am very afraid of not coming up with anything remotely defensible to say on the topic. I’ve be thrilled if someone with more background in this area were to jump in. Not sure ho that would be, though. Thinking maybe .

    Report

      • But even in the case of early-20th c. California, you didn’t have Washington, or, say, New York State, telling California that 1) New York State would like to let all these people in, 2) that California should therefore let them pass through, but 3) California has to do initial processing of all of them and care for those who choose to stay for an indeterminate length of time, and pay for said out of state funds, and 4) that no particular amount of federal aid would be forthcoming to California at any particular time (it might, it might not, but either way, these are your responsibilities, California).

        The federal government not only stopped California from making its own immigration policy, but it at least nominally took on the legal and financial responsibility for executing nation immigration policy. Here, Hungary is being asked to normalize its own (nation-state) immigration policy to the wishes of the dominant EU members, while also upholding pre-existing agreements about the responsibilities of states to process and car for refuge seekers, and not being offered anything like the resources from a central source of government to aid in meeting that responsibility.

        The reality is that even during Jan Brewer’s arguably understandable temper tantrum in 2012, Arizona was receiving a huge influx of federal dollars (yes, to federal agencies working in its borders) to help deal with immigration, and was being invited to please just let the federal government handle immigration. She was basically just not satisfied with what the federal government’s immigration policy was under Obama. But she was completely free to just let it be what it was.

        It’s really important to understand the way in which, at the very least, the Hungary situation is the Arizona situation on crazy steroids. But it’s probably more important to understand it is not really comparable at all, despite the obvious parallels that can be drawn.

        Report

        • California has to do initial processing of all of them and care for those who choose to stay for an indeterminate length of time, and pay for said out of state funds

          Honest question: who paid for Ellis Island and Angel Island? Because they are exactly that structure for immigration but I have no idea whether the state funds caveat exempts them. (Or, assuming it does, why that’s a complete distinguisher in and of itself).

          Report

          • Ellis Island and Angel Island were under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Before Ellis and Angel Island were created, states handled the admission process even though immigration and naturalization issues were under federal jurisdiction according to the Constitution. In New York, this was handled by New York State at Castle Garden Fort in Manhattan until the Federal government took over immigration processing on April 18, 1890. Ellis Island opened on January 2, 1892.

            It should be noted that Angel Island and Ellis Island were radically different places. Angel Island was more or less completely about keeping people out, because most people who entered through there were Asian, while Ellis Island was about welcoming and excluding.

            Report

  3. I should point out that there is a legal distinction between being a refugee and an immigrant. Refugees flee their native countries because of temporary danger. IIRC they are supposed to go back after 7 or so years or when the danger dies down and many do.

    I feel the need to also point out that the Syrians and others are fleeing real and serious conflicts and these are conflicts that in some ways are directly or indirectly caused by post 9/11 foreign policy.

    There have been refugees and asylum seekers since the dawn of civilization. We have never really been good at dealing with refugees. At the risk of being accused of going Godwin, the current refugee laws were created after World War II because the West felt bad about the fact that they turned down so many Jewish and other refugees from Hitler’s tyranny. One example is a ship called the Spirit of Saint Louis which contained 900 Jews seeking to flee the Nazis. The ship was turned down for entry in the U.S., Canada, and Cuba and returned to Europe on the eve of the Holocaust.

    Here is a book about how the world felt on the Jewish refugee crisis during the 1930s and post WWII era when many Jews did not want to return to their native countries

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/None_Is_Too_Many

    The title comes from an anecdote about an immigration official being asked how many Holocaust survivors would be allowed into Canada. The official said “None is too many.” Lee has previously pointed out that officials in New Zealand had a similar reaction to potentially allowing Holocaust survivors into the country.

    So why are we so willing to tell people “Eh, tough luck about what is going on in that country of yours but it is really too much for you to come here. Now toodles, sports are on TV.”

    Report

    • “I should point out that there is a legal distinction between being a refugee and an immigrant. Refugees flee their native countries because of temporary danger. IIRC they are supposed to go back after 7 or so years or when the danger dies down and many do.”

      A trolly comment right here would go something something Palestinian refugees.

      Report

      • What I would point out is that Israel took the Jews kicked out of the Arab countries and made them citizens. The Arab countries decided to put the Palestinians into refugee camps for decades as a political weapon. The equivalent would be if one side in the India-Pakistan conflict decided to put the people it received in camps for decades to beat up the other side.

        Report

    • Acting against self-interest as person who represents refugees for a living, it was the elite of the West that created the current refugee system. Like many other foreign policy decisions, what the population actually wanted wasn’t considered. There is a possibility that if the citizenry of all the initial convention to the Vienna Convention on Refugees were consulted that we wouldn’t have established the current system. One reason why dealing with an actual refugee crisis is more difficult in reality than on paper is that the politicians do have to consider what their citizens want when it comes to actual practice and even in some very progressive places, the citizen’s generally do not want a masses of asylum seekers coming in.

      There is probably no good solution to this. There will always be a tension between upholding the ideals of asylum and actually implementing these ideals during a mass refugee situation because of the nature of democracy.

      Report

      • Is the resistance to refugees because of refugees, or because of how they are generally dealt with? My understanding (flawed as it may be) is that we tend to lump all the refugees together, or we allow them to lump together and form enclaves. I can see why from a support POV, but I can also see why the current population might find such to be objectionable.

        Report

        • Resistance to large-scale refugee resettlement tends to be for the same reasons a lot of people aren’t generally fond of immigrants at all rather than how they are dealt with. After the Holocaust, many Americans didn’t want to let Holocaust survivors in because they were seen as Communists, even though many of them were also fleeing the newly established Communist governments of Eastern Europe in addition to place to live after surviving the Holocaust, because everybody knew that Jews were Communists. Likewise, people are opposed to the Syrian refugees because they are Muslim and therefore Islamist terrorists even though they are fleeing ISIS.

          Most immigrants tend to live in ethnic enclaves at first regardless of whether they are legal or undocumented, refugees or economic migrants. A lot of this is simply because living in ethnic enclaves is more affordable than not usually and your countrymen could help you get around in your new country. The dominate nationality isn’t generally friendly towards immigrants moving next to them either.

          Report

          • Get it right, the Syrians are fleeing the Assad regeime and its brutal tactics in the the civil war. I’ve heard several stories on NPR about refugees from Aleppo fleeing the regeime.

            Report

            • Dude, when people are fleeing a civil war, they’re usually fleeing *both sides*.

              If they were happy with one side or the other, if they thought one side was safe, they’d just go to an area under that side’s control.

              Now, this is just a general rule of thumb. Sometimes people can’t *get* to where they’d rather be, they ended up on the wrong side of the line, and they have to exit the country instead. And sometimes the ‘safe’ side simply can’t support the mass of people, although that can usually be rectified with aid instead of people becoming refugees.

              And, of course, sometimes the safe side *loses*.

              But *generally* when people flee a brutal civil war, it’s because they don’t particularly see either side as a good option.

              Report

            • Assad has been in power 14 years and his dad was in for 31.

              The implication that the Assads are out to kill everyone in their own country is ridiculous.

              This is what has happened: The West and the Saudis and Qataris have been funding Islamic radicals since the beginning of the “Arab Spring”. They had demonstrations in 2011 which may have been entirely legit to start with, but snipers fired on people. The same thing happened in Cairo and Tunis and Benghazi. This is not how anyone controls crowds, not even dictators. Likely the snipers were provocateurs, then you get angry rallies and defections from the government (in every Western-backed Arab Spring case). The Gulf-based Arab satellite channels (Al Jazeera is based in Qatar and Al Arabiya in These would usually have been in contact with intelligence agents and are given an easy life abroad or a chance to be a head honcho in the government after the “revolution”.

              But in Syria, only some thousands of soldiers defected. So the Gulf states brought in jihadis. They did the same in Libya. Jihadi mercenaries have also fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Usually they are fighting for a goal backed by the US/NATO but their direct payments are from the Gulf Arabs. Most fighters in Syria are foreigners, not Syrians.

              Anyway, this has been in the news for three years. If you heard on NPR that it is all Assad’s fault, I am not surprised because NPR is a warmongering media outlet funded by the most oligarchic foundations – Rockefeller, Ford, Annenberg/CPB Foundations, etc. Its reporting is more sophisticated than that of Fox News, but it is ridiuclously biased and aimed at the expansion of the Empire.

              That’s your “liberal” media.

              Report

          • Well, Israel does have some real socialist aspects, which can stray very close to the artificial line between socialism and communism, depending upon how you define the terms.

            Report

      • If they’ve noplace else to go, I think we do have an obligation to protect their quality of life.

        But I suppose our moral obligation to our own citizens would come into effect soon enough, with typhoid or AIDS or half a dozen other diseases.

        Or, you could be a shit, and plan on genocide. We first world countries do that too!!

        Report


        • “If they’ve noplace else to go, I think we do have an obligation to protect their quality of life.”

          Under what moral code or authority, specifically, do “we” have an obligation?

          Report

          • Good question — and I do want to say that to the very great extent that we do not manage to impoverish ourselves (IANAL, but I’m really not trying to be a total dick about moral obligations).

            I don’t tend to like authority, so I’ll say by my own moral code. But it definitely agrees with the Jewish code, and the Catholic — and though I haven’t studied it, I’d feel certain it works with the Muslim moral code as well. (and yes, the Sauds are assholes who don’t follow what they preach).

            I don’t mind if we pay for them to work down there, or otherwise get people out of a jam while leaving them in a habitable place, mind.

            Report

            • Ty. Indeed, I did not ask this to be snarky. I really want someone to provide me with a rational, and I’m all for voluntary related stuff. It’s the non voluntary that cheese me off since I’m also on the “don’t like authority” spectrum.

              Report

              • When folks get the voluntary charities to be effective (as opposed to cadaverous organizations that exist only to continue to exist), then I’ll be a good shot more likely to listen to the libertarian line: “if you stop doing it nonvoluntarily, people will do it voluntarily.”

                Because, if we did that now, we’d wind up with far less actually helping people.

                I suppose part of the justification for the nonvoluntary part is: “If enough people honestly want this to be done, why shouldn’t government do it?” [When Gates and Clinton went to Germany asking the corporations to contribute, they got “the government is doing it well enough.” Which I believe — for Germany. This is America, and we can do better on all fronts.]

                Report

                • Did you run that by your “God-fearing, righteous, Christian” friends? I expect real serious Christians might have a we bit of difference of opinion regarding that statement.

                  Report

                        • I think the promised land is a specific location yes? And it ain’t Germany, Europe or the Americas. I also seem to recall some genocide too taking place…in Jericho yes?

                          Report

                          • You do know why we call Boston the City on a Hill, right?

                            The vuzuvelas in South Africa nearly brought the stadium down.

                            Nietzche was right about G-d being a bloody barbarian, if you just read the 5 books,as written.

                            Report


                      • My biblical knowledge is sparse, but I’m not aware that god said anything about how folks needed to import others…

                        Really? It’s one of the more famous verses in the Bible, where Jesus says he’s going to divide up the people. Matthew 5:34-36:

                        ‘Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and _you invited Me in_; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

                        Notice the ‘invited Me in’? The Pope isn’t just making stuff up when he says that’s a Christian duty.

                        And then those guys point out they did not, in fact, do that (And when was Jesus running around naked?), Jesus explains that, SPOILER ALERT, he was secretly the poor and needy *the entire time*. Twist ending! (Jesus has also been M. Night Shyamalan this entire time.)

                        Report

        • If they’ve noplace else to go, I think we do have an obligation to protect their quality of life.

          Expand on this, please. Take the case of a Syrian subsistence farming family who were forced by the drought to leave their farm and go to an urban slum, who then fled the country because of the violence. Where and how do we protect their quality of life? And which quality of life? There are few places in the US, for example, where they could practice subsistence farming in the style they did in Syria. Or where a slum comparable to those in Syria would be tolerated. I’m not criticizing, I’m asking for clarification.

          Report

          • Please bear in mind that my preferable solution is to “help in place”, wherever possible. So, if you have a way to get the money to people, help them stay where they are (running an orphanage isn’t exactly rocket science is it?), that’s best.

            Finding a way to give the person a trade in America would be an acceptable “quality of life” situation, even if they find janitorial duties to be demeaning.

            Please bear in mind, though, when we talk about climatological refugees, they may literally have no place to stay.

            Report

        • You’re welcome to go live in Australia, if you actually have the courage of these convictions you pretend to.
          Enjoy the lack of freedom of speech while you’re at it.

          Shoo! Shoo!

          Report

        • Yes, they are. And as Jaybird asked me months ago, this is where I deviate from most libertarians. Milton Friedman had it right when he said that a welfare state was incompatible with open borders. I say choose one. I’d prefer the ending of the welfare state, as did Friedman, but I’ll take the other in the interim.

          Report

          • I would say it goes a step further, corporations and governments distort wages. Also manufactured scarcity by proxy conflict or corruption tend to make scarcity pawns moving over the chessboard. If you don’t want stable sovereign labor in control of local resources, make them flow like the tides.

            Borders are a barrier to this tactic.

            Report

  4. notme: I don’t see why other muslim countries aren’t taking any of their fellow believers instead of letting them live with infidels.

    Perhaps they’re using American generocity towards Central American refugees as their model.

    Report

        • If you’re working the cheap labor issue, It’s “cheaper” in total to let them get burned in their own country and not let them in. You can sub the work out from the states to that foreign “burning” country a lot easier then hiring folks after they cross the border.

          Report

          • Yeah, it’s why both zic and I are supporting orphanages south of the border (different orphanages, to be clear…). [to be clear, I’m doing a lot of my supporting through the very capitalistic “buying of workproduct”]

            “How do you inherit an orphanage?”
            ….
            “Okay, forget I asked that question!”

            Report

          • Silly conservative. Either you want them here, or you want to pay for them somewhere else. Because don’t all conservatives hate freeloaders?

            Teach a man to fish, and he’ll have food for life.

            Sounds like a grand plan, don’t it?

            Tell me you’re not that much of a fucking cheapskate…

            Report

            • Just as a parsing, there is a big different between taking voluntary money and helping someone “learn to fish” and taking non voluntary money and using that to teach someone to fish.

              Report

              • Of course I’m talking voluntary money.
                Notme can be xenophobic all you please — I care more about getting people helped wherever they are, rather than importing them here.

                [were we talking Nigeria or Israel, as opposed to Mexico, I might be slightly more approving of the “systemic issues mean we ought to import people” line of thought. Right now, I’m going for “whatever works, and if it’s cheaper, that’s more people to help”]

                Report

            • Can we just keep those ISIS freeloaders from the coffers of new guns and new trucks?

              Fast penny saved, furious penny earned, maybe fewer pawns of scarcity. Jus sayin’

              Report

  5. I have a semi dumb question about this whole situation that I hope somebody more knowledgeable can answer. Why is the refugee situation a crisis now, when the Syrian civil war has been going on for years, as has the war against the Islamic State? Has this been going on but not been reported on until recently? Has there been an increase in the intensity of the violence in Syria, or a change in policy in the EU? Is there some other development I’m not aware of?

    Report

  6. Here’s the thing everyone is missing: refugees and immigrants are a short-term cost for long-term economic rewards (not to mention the other benefits from humanitarian and other perspectives).

    Europe, like us, has demographic issues that suggest there’s a lot of space for young hard-working people who are willing to eat a lot of shit for very little money so that their kids can have a future. That’s the stuff that builds great countries, and I very much hope we get as much of that benefit as possible.

    Report

    • You might be able to convince me if you say medium-term rather than long-term. But probably not.

      I know how the following sounds in terms of bigotry and indifference to suffering and such. That makes me feel bad about believing it, but doesn’t change my beliefs. The world lacks the energy resources to provide 7.5B people with a lifestyle approximating today’s lower-middle-class life in the US or Europe or Japan. Optimistically, the world would need to produce twice as much high-quality energy as we do today. I go so far as to say that within the medium term (25-30 years), the US will struggle to produce the energy needed to support the population we will have at even 1% growth (on the order of 400M) in something like our present lower-middle-class lifestyle.

      I know all the arguments about it only takes a fraction of the total solar insolation, or that fission could do the job for thousands of years. What no one has shown me is anything that looks even vaguely like a politically feasible investment plan to get us from here to there.

      Report

  7. If we accept economic migrants, should we be operating under the assumption that they will be going back to Syria as soon as we kill ISIS?

    Should we be operating under the assumption that, if they come here, then they will stay here?

    I suspect that the assumption should be the latter one. If that’s accurate, how long before we should give these migrants the vote? To what extent should we expect them to change their culture in order to be assimilated? To what extent should we change in order to accommodate them and their own culture?

    Report

    • One of the things about Germany is that they don’t have a good process in place for all of this like we do. Which maybe is why they are being more generous… but from where I sit is a real cause for concern that makes them less equipped to accept them than half of Europe and most of the Americas.

      Report

      • The re-unification road was bumpy back in the 90’s and that was Germans working with Germans!

        I don’t know that things have gotten appreciably better since then when it comes to the whole cultural assimilation/accommodation thing.

        If the Germans are expecting a nice Eurodisney EPCOT version of Syrian Immigrants, I imagine that they will be finding themselves with reason to revise their expectations.

        I mean, the best case scenario is a replay of what happened with the Turks after the war, right? Maybe we’ll get that again.

        Report

        • Perhaps a regrettable phrasing, but it’s difficult for me to fully express the level of contempt Notme’s trollishness elicits in me. He makes me wish this site had a function to block another commenter’s posts.

          Report

          • IIRC Notme is a she but apologies if I am misremembering.
            I value Notme’s presence and contributions, I think notme encapsulates the lions share of what animates the modern GOP and conservative movement and there’s great benefit in having that present for contrast purposes if nothing else.

            Report

          • Zac: He makes me wish this site had a function to block another commenter’s posts.

            Here’s a simplistic Greasemonkey script to do that. Might be worth a request to Mr. Macleod for something more sophisticated and built-in.

            Report

          • I couldn’t care less what you think of me. Do you think insulting me in a childish fashion is going to make you appear clever or make you more popular? Besides, i thought there weren’t supposed to be personal attacks here? As usual, the rules apply to some but not others

            Report

            • Besides, i thought there weren’t supposed to be personal attacks here? As usual, the rules apply to some but not others

              There aren’t. I apologize if I don’t sit at my computer all day trolling for violators, especially liberal ones, in order to appease your sensibilities.

              Look at it this way, at least Zac was nice enough to consider that his phrasing was regrettable.

              Besides, there are times when I enjoy watching you betas insult each other. I don’t play favorites because I don’t like anyone.

              Report

              • Not a good excuse i my opinion. If you can’t just apologize without reservation, I think you ought to drop this theme. In my opinion the effect is much more disruptive to the conversation, or to what might have been a conversation, than anything notme said.

                Report

                • If I could go back and edit that word in the comment to just “human”, I would. I stand by the comment’s general sentiment, that Notme is a cartoonish troll who almost never adds anything substantive to the conversations here, but yes, I wish I hadn’t put it quite that way.

                  Report

                • I’m not sure what the point of the comment was, but the strategy of reducing the conversation to sentimental metaphors seems recognizable.

                  Instead of responding more or less in kind, or of putting yourself in the position of defending the extreme reduction of your position, you might consider as an alternative drilling down to specifics as per this article off of trumwill’s Twitter feed: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/europe-gets-borders_1032567.html

                  Report

                • Not you personally, so much as noting the irony that advocating a policy of indifference to the suffering of millions of people is calmly discussed as policy, but calling someone a bad name on the internet is an over-the-top outrage.

                  Report

                  • Well, calling people bad names on the internets can get you banned–at least on this site. Callousness fills our foreign policy initiatives. You know, “policeman of the world” convos a while back….

                    Report

                  • As a practical matter and a matter of taste, I would prefer not exclude from our company anyone and everyone that is skeptical of or hostile to Germany’s asylum policy. And I would also prefer that conversations not devolve into everybody calling everyone else a rat-fornicator.

                    The former leads to an echo chamber. The latter leads to… just about every other comment section on the Internet.

                    The last time this site started to equate policy positions and personal insult, it became so unbearable I almost resigned. So I would definitely prefer not go back to that.

                    Report

            • “A regrettable phrasing”? Calling someone “subhuman” is simply a “regrettable phrasing”?

              Yes. Don’t be such a fishing candyass.

              You’re too squeamish to police comments so my suggestion is to you is not to waste your time doing it.

              Report

              • I don’t want to risk the wrath of Dave here, and I like Zac and understand that notme’s “style” can be frustrating, but I think CK was right on here. IMO “subhuman” is pretty far over the line, as far as personal insults go. It’s literally and precisely dehumanizing/depersonalizing terminology, and can’t even claim the figleaf of symbolism or hyperbole-for-effect or metaphor (like calling someone “scum” can, for example).

                FWIW.

                Report

                  • I see your point and have no wish to drag this out into meta-meta land, but my point wasn’t really about Zac, except that his happened to be the precipitating comment.

                    Dave just seemed to be coming down pretty hard on what I thought was a fairly gentle (and IMO justified) rebuke from CK, that’s all.

                    Report

                    • I almost feel bad when I read stuff like that…almost. ;)

                      Anyone that has conversed with me away from these pages (you haven’t I don’t recall) knows that I’m far more pleasant than I appear at times.

                      Never worry about disagreeing with me. I’ve even had people email me with “dude wtf”. All good my friend.

                      What you saw was more of what I’ll say is a clash of personalities. We’re good.

                      Report

                • Exactly so.
                  If you want to have someone classified as subhuman, its gauche to come right out and say it.

                  Its far more acceptable to launder the expression through several cycles of intellectual abstraction, with statistics and footnotes(1), perhaps references to a classical past(2), then presented with an air of indifference and ambivalent dispassion, but with an edge of aggrieved victimhood, e.g., we need to be brave enough to stand up to the PC police who stifle our attempts to point out the subhuman nature of conservatives.

                  (1). Ref. Murray, Charles; “Are Black People Subhuman? The Phrenological Evidence!
                  (2) Hanson, Victor Davis: “Spartans Were NOT Homos!”

                  Report

          • If you meant it as a personal insult, it was indeed regrettable.

            If you mean that notme’s commenting style could be duplicated by a not particularly sophisticated version of Eliza running on a Commodore 64, you were spot on.

            Report

          • I do find the many people have no tolerance for opinions in conflict with their world view, all the while insisting that everyone else tolerate/embrace their opinions and policy recommendations.

            Report

          • I would note that OG has formally banned, what, 3 people? And two of them were liberals (though I wince at including those lunatics in my tent).

            Lamentably Bob Cheeks was the third, an absence I mourn to this day.

            Report

                • Majors wasn’t liberal. There is also SuperDestroyer, though that was almost pre-emptive. ScarletNumber was neither liberal nor conservative, though here he came across conservative,though he was given diary chance.

                  Conservatives tend to leave either to save their eardrums or voluntarily make a suspension permanent.

                  Report

                    • @will-truman

                      You see the same debates at Slate Star Codex about whether Scott Alexander’s readers have a liberal bias or a conservative bias with the left saying “Slate Star Codex has a super-conservative bias” and the right saying “Slate Star Codex has a super-liberal bias.”

                      Anarcho-Capitalists like David Freidman and open defenders of neb-reactionaryism and “Uncle Steve” comment regularly at SSC so this feeling of being biased against might be hardwired into humanity.

                      Report

                  • The left is as poorly represented as social conservatives here, and perhaps for the same reasons. I know a couple old OTers have made comments to me off site about the way the left is represented/treated here that have echoed some of the complaints of the conservatives who are or were regulars.

                    In the end, I think this place is almost radically centrist, perhaps naturally, as a function of its comment culture. It probably feels really liberal to conservatives, especially social conservatives, but it feels pretty conservative to me.

                    Report

                    • The left-left is, I would agree. The problems there, holding on to good writers and commenters, are similar.

                      I would argue that you have to go significantly further left of center (in terms of the US political axis) before you get there, though, than you have to go right.

                      But there is a cliff to dive off of in either direction.

                      Report

                      • That says a lot about the US political axis, at least.

                        Like I said, I think the lack of a right and a left here is largely a function of the culture. If you go to places where there are substantial numbers of people on the Right, you won’t find much discussion, and the representation of everything to the left of Ted Cruz is represented almost cartoonishly. If you visit places where there are substantial numbers of people on the Left, you’ll find they’re not at all interested in talking to people who aren’t. There is a lot of discussion, but it’s mostly infighting. You’ll hardly ever see them even mentioning left liberals, much less conservatives, except in Chomskyan circles, where pretty much everyone’s lumped together (explicitly: “There is no substantial difference between” is how ever sentence on mainstream American politics is begun among the ZMag crowd).

                        Freddie might be an exception, but he spends more time talking about left liberals than just about anything else, whatever that means.

                        But here, people talk about stuff, mostly civilly, occasionally even somewhat productively, even when they disagree.

                        Report

                    • With a handful of, granted, notable exceptions, we’re pretty much within the overton window. If we define “being within the overton window” as “centrist”, then, yes. Absolutely, this is a centrist website.

                      We’ve got more than our fair share of air-quotes “intellectuals” (translated as “people who did what was the required reading a generation ago”) which makes us somewhat of a small-c catholic website… but we’re on the left side of the smartypants quadrant of the overton window.

                      Report

                      • This is true.

                        The one exception I can think of (masthead anyway) is Ryan. (And maybe zic, since I haven’t seen her around since the Great Hilary Debate, but I’m hoping it’s just that she’s busy.)

                        But there have been a lot of L commenters here, especially who came from BJ, who left over time in much the same way the so-cons did. Somni comes to mind as a spirit I especially miss.

                        Report

                      • Gude is definitely left left in the same way that Freddie is (which is to say, lefty folks who’d still probably loosely identify with the Democratic party, certainly with the Bernie wing). Also Gatch. If I remember correctly, they both spent most of their time on sub-blogs.

                        Brown is what? An anarchist with cult of personality ambitions?

                        Report

                    • Chris: In the end, I think this place is almost radically centrist, perhaps naturally, as a function of its comment culture. It probably feels really liberal to conservatives, especially social conservatives, but it feels pretty conservative to me.

                      Rather than “function of its comment culture,” I’d say commitment to preservation of a type of comment culture – or commitment to discussion as end in itself among other ends, necessarily taking precedence over any of them (or over any absolute commitment to any (other) end). It is implicitly, and finally, a commitment to philosophy or philosophical politics over prescriptive politics or over discussion shaped by any precepts of the essentially political-theological type.

                      The political-philosophical anti-precept, which is also of course a precept but in its own way, always appears relatively right-conservative to the left-liberal, and left-liberal to the right-conservative, simply because it cannot ever treat whatever left-liberal or right-conservative positive alternative precept as a determinative precept and at the same time maintain its own primary uncompromising commitment to, or determinative precept of, the testing of precepts or non-pre-determination of conclusions, or uncompromising pre-commitment against uncompromising pre-commitments.

                      A number of other familiar contradictions and paradoxes ensue, already touched on in the oxymoronical phrase “radical centrism” (non-identity identity, party of no party, etc.) along with attempts to demonstrate that particular issue positions are or remain either in keeping with or in fact obligatory for defense or continued realization, however compromised, of the uncompromisingly compromising anti-precept precept. The objective tendency will most of the time be “moderate,” but only most of the time, as any absolute commitment to moderation would obviously itself be immoderate (and so on) – as is well-known and well-understood.

                      Report

                      • This is well put, and the last paragraph definitely get at what I’m getting at. What I was thinking with the “radically” portion of the “radically centrist,” which might also be described as “radically moderate,” was the tendency, present here from top to bottom, to belittle certain types of ideas or people, as crazy or worse, as a means of signalling one’s commitment to an absolute moderateness. “Militant moderates” might even be a better term.

                        Mark this down as another post I almost wrote (about the reflexive anti-leftism of the center, including here; in fact, inspired by a couple posts and some comments) but never did (I believe I talked to a few people about it off site, though).

                        Report

            • North, ol’ pal, how are you doin’?
              Miss Martha sends her loving regards and trusts things are well.
              Since I’m no longer ‘limited’ I’m sure this will go through unedited.
              I don’t think I have the strength for a full membership-I talk with Prof. Handley from time-to-time, but I may, if permitted, comment but as I approach the big 70 I’ve come to realize the ‘progressives-progs’ have won the day and I am reduced to buying guns and ammunition for the farm. As ever,
              Yours-in-Christ (YIC)
              Bob Cheeks

              Report

  8. I think so but it wasn’t election-specific stuff. (Couldn’t have been because almost nobody here voted for Romney.) It was along the lines of… This place acts like it wants to be open to women but here is a commenter that believes women should not have the autonomy to choose whether or not to carry life and that’s personally insulting to women and it’s telling that this site accepts that view of women.

    The line is sometimes thin, and from a particular vantage point, it is worse to advocate stripping women of their abortion rights than calling a particular woman a sex-based slur. But that’s the road to nowhere.

    Report

  9. notme:
    Not really, you can always personally attack conservatives here but you’d better not say anything about blacks, jews, gays or women lest you be banned.

    Yeah, it’s a real shame how people get mad when you openly shit on minorities around here. *rolls eyes*

    Seriously, I’m beginning to suspect you’re a sock puppet for one of the more liberal-ish posters here who’s doing a long-running, Andy-Kaufman-esque satire of right-wingers. Perhaps the same person who brought us “Coke-Encrusted Holllywood Exec”?

    Report

Comments are closed.